State and local officials were anxiously awaiting what Monday night might bring after weekend protests statewide were marred by violence, property damage and tense confrontations with police.
After a rash of rioting Saturday in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, at least 11 Florida municipalities imposed curfews Sunday that expired Monday morning. Miami-Dade County’s curfew remains in place.
Gov. Ron DeSantis had not declared a state of emergency in Florida. On Saturday, the governor activated nearly 500 National Guardsmen to respond to requests for assistance from local officials. As of Monday, 150 guardsmen were in Miramar, 100 were in Tampa and 150 were in Camp Blanding near Starke.
DeSantis had not addressed the demonstrations staged across the state and nation in the wake of last week’s death in Minneapolis of George Floyd – a black man who died in custody after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes – until he issued a statement at 5 p.m. Monday.
“Florida has zero tolerance for violence, rioting and looting,” he said. “George Floyd’s murder was appalling, and the Minnesota perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our Florida communities.”
DeSantis said he has activated an additional 200 Florida National Guardsmen “specially trained to support law enforcement. I have also worked with the FHP to coordinate more than 1,300 sworn Florida Highway Patrol troopers to support local law enforcement efforts. We will continue to do everything necessary to keep residents safe.”
Weekend demonstrations were staged in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee, Daytona Beach, Stuart, Lakeland and other Florida cities.
• Miami: Protesters Saturday night vandalized or set ablaze 17 squad cars outside Miami Police headquarters; hurled rocks and bottles, injuring four officers; shut down I-95; and looted stores inside Bayside Marketplace.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said Sunday that 13 of the 57 people arrested Saturday were Miami residents. The Miami Herald reported, however, 30 had Miami-Dade County addresses. Eleven others were from Broward and Palm Beach counties, seven were not Florida residents and six were listed as homeless.
On Sunday, hundreds marched past the federal detention center and blocked the westbound lanes of I-395. They were confronted by Miami-Dade officers in riot gear and gradually dispersed without a repeat of Saturday’s violence.
Miami-Dade County remains under a curfew imposed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. As a result, beaches – closed since March because of the COVID-19 emergency – did not open as planned Monday but may open Tuesday if the curfew is lifted.
• Fort Lauderdale: Police used tear gas along Las Olas Boulevard and near the the Broward County Library to break up what witnesses and media reported was a peaceful demonstration by about 2,500 people. One officer was suspended after video showed he pushed a kneeling woman to the ground, spurring protesters to throw bottles.
Police and local official said “agitators” are infiltrating organized marches.
“What I’m hearing from different sources is there are people embedded in these demonstrations to cause a lot of misery on people to make the demonstrators who were there early look bad and to really not benefit the cause of moving our country forward,” Broward County Mayor Dale Holness told CBS4 Sunday night.
• Tampa: Protesters smashed 40 store windows; looted AT&T, jewelry and Champs Sports stores; and set a Mobile gas station ablaze Saturday night. Police in riot gear confronted hundreds in University Mall’s parking lot and arrested 41. One Hillsborough County deputy was hit in the back of the head with a “hard object,” and a Tampa police officer was treated for minor burns after being struck by a “mortar.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Sunday imposed a 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in response to Saturday protests and called for National Guard assistance.
On Sunday, thousands gathered and demonstrated, although there was little violence. Black Lives Matter organizers had nearly 100 “safety marshals” in fluorescent vests and with walkie-talkies, patrolling their march, using “de-escalation tactics” and watching for “antagonists.”
• Jacksonville: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Sunday imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew after Friday and Saturday protests turned violent in the face of tear gas and a heavy police presence.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said one deputy was either stabbed or slashed in the neck and was taken to a hospital for treatment Saturday evening.
The Center Square
The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) has requested 100,000 private companies registered as vendors authorized to bid on state contracts to verify within 30 days whether they are “majority-owned by United States interests.”
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said at Thursday's Florida Cabinet meeting – the first gathering of the state’s four top elected officials since February – that DFS will demand contractors and vendors “self-identify whether they’re majority American-owned.”
The goal of the query, he said, is to “better identify businesses that are majority Communist Party of China-owned that do business with the state of Florida.”
In an April 23 letter to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, Patronis warned the state has identified $2 billion in unclaimed assets in Florida linked to “wholly” owned Chinese companies that it may target as restitution to compensate the state for costs incurred from the COVID-19 emergency.
“China should own the problems they've caused this country and the state of Florida due to their mishandling of #COVID19. Let’s find any unclaimed property of Chinese-owned companies and look at ways to use it to help Florida,” Patronis tweeted that same day.
On Thursday, Patronis said his warning to Tiankai fell on deaf ears, so he is authorizing DFS to ferret out vendors with Chinese ties.
“Since they’ve chosen to not respond to our official transmission, we’re going to follow through in our commitment of identifying Chinese-owned businesses that do business with the state,” he said. “This will provide us information should Florida need to withhold payments to these businesses as federal leaders sort out potential financial impacts against the Communist Party of China.”
DFS’ Vendor Ownership Survey, sent to the state’s registered contractors, said, “If you are a vendor that is domiciled in the United States and controlled directly or indirectly at all levels (meaning at least fifty percent (50.00%) ownership or more) by United States citizens and entities (“U.S. Interests”), you are hereby requested to respond within 30 days by verifying your status as a company owned and controlled by U.S. Interests, in order to avoid necessary follow up by the Department.
“If you are not included in the above because you are not owned or controlled by U.S. Interests,” the survey concluded, “your response stating so is also requested.”
Florida Cabinet meetings are chaired by the governor. In addition to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Patronis, the Cabinet includes Attorney General Ashley Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
All four have targeted China, generally, and the Communist Party of China (CPC), specifically, since the COVID-19 emergency emerged in March.
DeSantis routinely accuses China of withholding disclosure about the coronavirus to hoard personal protective equipment and other supplies “to try to screw over the rest of the world.”
Moody joined 17 other state attorneys general last month in calling on Congress to investigate CPC for an alleged “massive conspiracy to cover up and mislead the international community about the severity and highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus.”
Fried is lobbying against a “misguided” USDA-approved plan to import five types of Chinese citrus as the state’s $8.6 billion citrus industry combats greening disease, or citrus huanglongbing (HLB), a bacteria that originated in China.
Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-St. Augustine Beach, have called on DFS to purge Chinese companies from the state's $200 billion investment portfolio after learning the Florida Retirement System (FRS) owned – as of June 2019 – 1.8 million shares in Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd., a black-listed Chinese-owned company.
The Center Square
If a State, County or City, because of their political beliefs, fails to enforce the law…lawlessness is ALWAYS the result!
I am not surprised of the resulting lawlessness after what may well be an illegal act of a few lawmen.
I am surprised at the continued use of an extreme, choke hold, on an apparently, submitted subject. I am not surprised that it resulted in a death. I am not surprised; at the resulting rioting in a black neighborhood, against innocent, black, honest citizens and their businesses… in an extremely left State, extremely left City and extremely Democrat led failure to enforce the freaking law!! You folks who keep electing incompetent, Democrat leaders whose only agenda is to replace our President, are getting what you deserve for leaders…do nothing… if it’s okay take credit if it turns to crap…blame a Republican. That’s the leadership that exists in every single Democrat led State and they are all in big financial trouble… but not one Republican led State is in trouble!?
On the use of a choke hold…I was the head Firearms and DT (Defensive Tactics) Instructor for my FBI Division. I did not teach the choke hold to either FBI Agents or Police Officers. I demonstrated the choke hold…explained that it is “the use of deadly force” … and it can be used, if not prohibited by their Agency…just like you can shoot to kill when necessary…to save a life.
I didn’t teach it because, in my opinion, it required a skill factor that required more training than we could provide, in the time allotted for any DT training. We dedicated many weeks to the use of handguns, rifles and shot guns for the proficiency in the use of deadly force and a single week for DTs covering every aspect of handcuffing, control, disarming, self-protection, extraction from a vehicle and on and on and …oh yea, choke holds…not nearly enough time.
I used a choke hold once in my entire career of some 3 decades working the FBI’s Violent Crimes Program. That was after exchanging shots with and during the arrest, of an extremely tough, bad guy, who decked my partner twice, took a hostage (12 year old little girl), after I shot back. We ended up in a “fight for survival” where I knocked him out with an “extreme” choke hold. He never stopped fighting…until he was out cold!
That was extreme, justified and legal even if he had not survived the fight…that’s how extreme the situation must be in my opinion, before the use of a gun or choke hold (deadly force) can be used…in my opinion.
So, is the use of deadly force allowed…justified…absolutely…but you had better be ready to explain how you were protecting yourself or somebody else!
With the limited information, and needless to say, the lack of the MSM displaying the entire videos and all that led up to the unfortunate death...no one should say who was at fault until there is a Grand Jury Hearing and Grand Jury verdict … True Bill or No Bill.
Being a lawman is unlike anything else in the world. In war a soldier has rules of engagement on whether to kill or not. Lawmen are not allowed to toss in a hand grenade to clear a room…soldiers are. Extreme? Not at all…being that a Police Officer is less likely to be shot, sniped or IED’d than a soldier is good… but his “Rules of Engagement” are much less clear, not well defined! He truly has to make his own Rules of Engagement as he moves down that street!
We must, because of the dangers our Police, Lawmen face daily…we must… give them the benefit of doubt…no matter how tough that may be. I personally have been pulled out of FBI cars looking down the barrel of a 12 gage shotgun held by a Police Officer, more than once, during critical FBI surveillances, because of mistakes made, mostly due to a lack of communication, with no one person to blame…it’s a “mistake”! Stuff happens!
Unlike Obama and Erick Holder…President Trump does have the backs of his lawmen and I believe he will continue to do so! Just let the other lawmen do their jobs…and don’t think burning down buildings and looting are allowed because it’s blacks harming blacks…all black lives and black businesses do matter, but scum, any color, like those arsonists and looters…don’t!
J.Gary DiLaura, FBI RED
Retired, Extremely Dangerous!